by Robert O'Reilly
Drogheda United recorded back to back wins for only the second time this season as they put four goals past struggling UCD without reply at United Park.
An early strike from Gavin Brennan was a sign of things to come as a second half double from Gary O’Neill and a calm finish from Cathal Brady sealed United’s biggest win of the season.
New Drogs manager Damien Richardson named an unchanged side from the one that won 1-0 in Tallaght last week while UCD boss Aaron Callaghan made four enforced changes from Sunday’s 6-1 drubbing to Derry City with Niall Corbet, Ian Ryan, Samir Belhout and Robbie Creevy all starting.
The home side hit the front after only seven minutes as Cathal Brady dispossessed Sean Coyne on the edge of the box before pulling the ball back for Brennan who fired a low drive under the body of Corbet.
United almost doubled their lead seconds later as a foul on Brady presented the in-form Gavan Holohan with a free kick twenty yards out but Corbet was equal to his effort.
UCD struggled to gain a foothold throughout the first half as Drogheda continued to create and squander chances. Carl Walshe worked a yard of space on the left but his cross was missed by O’Neill when it seemed easier to score.
O’Neill was involved again as he teed up Brennan on the stroke of half time but the midfielder sent his strike narrowly wide of the far post.
A speculative free kick from Belhout was the only effort the Students had on target in the first half and it was a similar story in the second period as Drogheda furthered strengthened their grip on the game. An under hit backpass from Ian Ryan on 56 minutes was pounced on by O’Neill who rounded Corbet before firing high into the empty net for 2-0.
The hosts were out of sight two minutes later as Brennan found Holohan in acres of space in the centre-circle and the midfielder delivered an inch-perfect, defence splitting pass to put Brady through on goal and he slotted the ball in at the near post.
A disastrous ten minutes for UCD was compounded on 66 as Brady, who had the beating of Coyne all game, crossed for O’Neill and the striker headed home for his fifth league goal of the season.
Drogheda introduced new signings Garreth Brady and Peter McGlynn in the latter stages of the game as they missed further chances to extend their lead; both McGlynn and Holohan firing wide from good positions.
The result sees United open up a seven point gap between themselves and UCD in the relegation playoff position ahead of next week’s mouth watering Louth derby with table toppers Dundalk.
by Robert O'Reilly
Damien Richardson will take charge of Drogheda United for the first time as the Boynesiders face struggling UCD at United Park on Friday, kick-off 7.45pm.
The Dubliner takes over after United’s surprising 1-0 victory over Shamrock Rovers last Friday with caretaker manager Darius Kierans now acting as Richardson’s assistant for the remainder of the season.
That victory lifted United up to eight in the table but they remain within touching distance of both Bray Wanderers and UCD as the Drogs aim to avoid the end of season relegation playoff.
One of Richardson’s immediate concerns will be to address Drogheda’s struggling home form as they have picked up only seven points from a possible 27 since the opening night victory over Dundalk.
United will be without the suspended Paul Andrews for UCD’s visit as he serves the final match of a four game ban while Stephen Maher will also be unavailable due to injury. Drogheda are still awaiting international clearance for new signing Peter McGlynn.
As for the Students, Aaron Callaghan’s side will be low on confidence following last Sunday’s 6-1 hammering to Derry City, a defeat that was compounded by a serious injury to defender Mark Langtry.
Langtry is one of a number of absentees for UCD with both Dean Clarke and Tomas Boyle also missing due to injury while Hugh Douglas and Colm Crowe are suspended.
UCD were victors when the sides met earlier in the season as two goals in the last ten minutes from Cillian Morrison and Robbie Benson secured a 2-1 win. The Students have been a bogey side for Drogheda down the years and it has been five games since United last got the best of them with a double coming from Gary O’Neill in a 3-2 victory in April of last year.
Despite that record, Richardson’s side go into the game as favourites and the experienced boss has urged his players to put a difficult few months behind them between now and the season’s end.
“My main aim at Drogheda is to achieve a high level of performance with a strong tempo to our game. The demand between now and the end of the season will be to improve with each passing game and the attitude of the players will be the catalyst for that. We find ourselves in a position that the club shouldn’t be in but it is now up to us to battle our way back to where we should be in the table. The only way to achieve that is by producing consistent performances week in, week out.
“I have been very impressed with the quality and mindset of the squad so far. There is a great buzz around the side and they realise that it has been a difficult season but there is an intent about the players to do something about it. When you’re dealing with players who have that honesty and desire, it’s great for team spirit which will be essential for our young squad between now and the end of the season.
“I watched UCD play in Cork a fortnight ago and they were impressive and unfortunate not to come away with a result. They were heavily beaten last week but that happens when you have such a young side. Individually, they are very capable and Aaron Callaghan is an excellent manager who plays an attractive style of football but it is imperative for us to beat the sides around us in the table.”
Cathal Brady (Garreth Brady 83’)
Gary O’Neill (Declan O’Brien 75’)
Carl Walshe (Peter McGlynn 67’)
Shane Grimes ©
Robbie Creevy (Gary Burke 70’)
Timmy Molloy (Gregory Sloggett 67’)
Samir Belhout (Chris Mulhall 78’)
Gavin Brennan 7’
Gary O’Neill 58’
Cathal Brady 60’
Gary O’Neill 66’
Gavin Holohan (yellow) 11’
Ciarán McGuigan (yellow) 50’
Samir Belhout (yellow) 57’